Three-quarters of the way through this week’s episode, "Trojan Horse," I had figured out what I was going to write my review. I wanted to talk about leadership and dissect the difference between Coach’s style and Ozzy’s style.
And then Ozzy went a pulled one of the ballsiest moves in Survivor history.
Or maybe the stupidest. There’s plenty of room to debate the merits of what Ozzy is doing and we’ll do that. Just later. I want to focus on the leadership effect that Ozzy’s choice will have on his tribe.
By sacrificing himself for the betterment of his tribe and his ultimate success as a player, Ozzy’s move will unify Savaii. This is quite ironic because all of his actions leading up to the day of tribal council did anything but accomplish this task.
Ozzy’s temper tantrum after losing the immunity challenge was just that: a temper tantrum. The kind of thing you’d expect to see from a 13-year old who just lost his youth basketball game. It was not that of a mature, experienced player who’s supposed to be leading his tribe.
Any leader knows that what people respond to the most is not outburst of emotion but a projection of confidence and calm. I can say this with confidence as someone who has failed frequently as an alleged leader due to my own exuberance.
I’m sure Ozzy was extremely frustrated after losing this week. It was also easy to point the finger at Cochran. But what did that accomplish other than reinforcing negative feelings that everyone on his tribe was already experiencing? Such actions and emotions are not what engender loyalty and trust.
As crazy as he may seem, Coach’s actions this week were the complete opposite of Ozzy’s. Perhaps he was a bit too overboard with the religious rhetoric, but it worked. At least it worked in unifying what could have easily been a divided tribe after a contentious tribal council.
Whether that’s why Upolu won the challenge or if Cochran’s error was the bigger factor isn’t relevant. More importantly, it kept Upolu focused on being a tribe something that would be vital whether Upolu won or lost the challenge. Having won the challenge only further solidifies their bond as six.
Having completely torn his tribe apart by virtue of his kicking and screaming after the challenge, Ozzy flipped the script by offering to go to Redemption Island. It showed his tribe that he was thinking about how to keep the group as whole as possible. They even came up with a dastardly plan to turn Cochran in to a double agent. It was actually pretty diabolical, if it works.
That, of course, is the biggest wrinkle of the entire plan. The tribes are assuming that they’re going to merge next week and the winner of the final duel will rejoin the tribe. With nine players left in the game, the winner would put them at an even ten players. This is how last season went.
If nothing else, Survivor has demonstrated that it is not to be predicted. Frankly, it seems as if Jeff gets a perverse joy out of the survivors thinking the game is going one way when it is really going another. You know Jeff will be grinning from ear to ear if there is no merge.
This is why Ozzy’s move is stupid, even if the tribes do merge next week. Assuming a merge was far too risky and the reward was minimal for his tribe. At best Ozzy restores a tie game between Savaii and Upolu. At worst, he somehow loses the dual and is sent home.
But there’s more. Even if Ozzy does beat Christina (and I hope he does because she’s miserable) what if the tribes do not merge? He could be returning to a dying tribe anyway. Something he might have been able to prevent if he was still in the game.
For the sake of a dramatic move, I hope it works for Ozzy. It’d be great theatre. I just don’t like his odds.
More from this episode:
- The most confusing part about Ozzy’s move was that apparently they forgot that Christina blatantly said she’d join Savaii if she got back in the game. Savaii didn’t need to make the move at all.
- I may have applauded Coach’s tactics earlier, but that was just in the sense of how it unified his tribe. What Upolu has become is brutal television to watch.
- Why did Brandon paint a bra on his chest for his war paint? To be Edna’s twin? We couldn’t go an episode without something from Brandon.